Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works

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Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata?
Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding certainly didn't. When Goulding first tried to learn about classical music, he found himself buried in an avalanche of technical terms and complicated jargon–so he decided to write the book he couldn't find.
The result is a complete classical music education in one volume. Comprehensive, discriminating, and delightfully irreverent, Classical Music provides such essential information as:
* Rankings of the top 50 composers (Bach is #1. Borodin is #50)
* A detailed and anecdotal look at each composer's life and work
* The five primary works of each composer and specific recommended CDs for each.
* Further great works of each composer–if you really like him
* Concise explanations of musical terminology, forms, and periods
* A guide to the parts and history of the symphony orchestra
"This book uses every conceivable gimmick to immerse readers in the richness of classical music: lists, rankings, sidebars devoted to lively anecdotes, and catchy leads."
–The Washington Post
"One terrific music appreciation book…The information is surprisingly detailed but concisely presented. Goulding's writing style is breezy yet mature….[He] has raised music appreciation from a racket to a service."
–The Arizona Daily Star

Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449910423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449910429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

Customer Reviews

Very useful guidance

 on March 16, 2017
By Barry Rucker
This book guides the classical music lover to the most worthy compositions of the greatest composers. Occasionally I think some of the compositions are subpar, but in general the guidance is wise, and the mini-biographies of composers are highly interesting. I use this book many hours per day, because it is so useful.

biography of the great composers and

One person found this helpful.
 on April 27, 2016
By Fpwdds
Definitive guide to the various eras of “classical music’, biography of the great composers and…..a list of each composers best, critically acclaimed pieces, symphonys, concertos, sonatas, etc. Just a wonderful book to learn about great music.

Five Stars

 on June 15, 2017
By Amazon Customer
Excellent read!!!

Great Intro the the Best in Classical Music

One person found this helpful.
 on January 19, 2013
By Joe Walsh
If you are relatively new to the enjoyment of classical music, this book provides a much appreciated guide to the great composers and their best works. Rather than having to test a huge variety of works, this book gives recommendations as to which works to buy for each composer. If you need a basic sampler of the composers, there is a list of five essential works, ten essential works, etc.

Opinionated and fun to read

 on January 23, 2016
By Amazon Customer
A good introduction to classical music. I disagree with a few of his choices, but overall there is a good balance.

Five Stars

 on December 19, 2016
By Client d'Amazon
book so gerat for begginers like me

… book I read through and right now it is good to have original English

 on September 29, 2015
By Shao Yong
The 1st classical music reference book I read through and right now it is good to have original English version

Five Stars

 on December 22, 2016
By Amazon Customer

This is a very easy read. If classical music both intimidate and intrigue …

 on May 4, 2015
By brassslide
This is a very easy read. If classical music both intimidate and intrigue you, then this is the book for you.

Good book

One person found this helpful.
 on August 10, 2013
By Joseph a Seifers
Nice writing ….gets you through some heady info without putting you to sleep. Very interesting read. I would recommend to novices and pros alike.

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